Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Accelerator program aims to reduce teacher shortage – Center Square

The Golden Apple Accelerator Program will train teachers in 15 months for central, western and southern Illinois communities in hopes candidates will fill teaching vacancies and settle down. 

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Column: Ryan’s revelations reveal more than he intended – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "It’s an entitlement attitude — too many politicians who say they want to do good for others are more interested in doing well for themselves. It’s the way the game has been played, is being played and will continue to be played. Ryan didn’t invent public corruption in Illinois. He just did what came naturally, as his successors in public office continue to do."

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IDPH not considering St. Clair County request for lighter COVID-19 restrictions – Belleville News-Democrat

“... When other parts of the region (Region 4) are not complying with the governor’s asks then I think there needs to be an exception that’s made for a county that is complying and whose numbers are reaching those areas to allow businesses to at least go back to where they were a month ago,” St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern said Monday.

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Districts face financial problems with virtual learning – FOX Illinois

District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill said they’re saving money this year when it comes to some transportation and substitute teacher costs. but more money is also being spent on technology and personal protective equipment.

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Corruption expert: Cases ‘funneling down’ and ‘coming to a head’ in Illinois – Center Square

With the heightened awareness about multiple cases of corruption and alleged corruption in state government, Saint Xavier University Professor David Parker said people aren’t looking for perfection. “Sometimes it’s a matter of it could be legal but that doesn’t mean it’s ethical and there’s some more focus on ‘OK, we’ve had enough of playing the loopholes, we’re looking for some personal integrity.’”

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Illinois lawmakers ask Big Ten for testing game plan, hope to scale for K-12 schools – Center Square

State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, said there’s no reason students should be denied a chance to safely return to school when a convenient option exists to do so: “It hits my gut the wrong way that, because TV network money was on the line and there was this huge cry for college football, that it got done faster than everyday citizens trying to do the same thing.”

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Complaint Filed Over Lake County Couple’s Campaign Finance Violations, Which Spent 3 Years Unnoticed – NPR Illinois

Reform for Illinois, which is nonpartisan, said the the issue is bigger than just the Rummel duo. “The concern is if this goes unanswered — if the State Board of Elections doesn’t act in this case — then how many more candidates and elected officials will decide, ‘Well, why should I have a candidate committee and deal with these smaller contribution limits? I could just have a PAC and take in twice or three times the amount of money.’”

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Student government resolution draws quick critique from UI admin, public – Daily Illini

Rob Smith, contributor to youth conservative group Turning Point USA, disagreed with defunding police, mentioning that a policeman escorted him when he spoke on the University campus in October of last year. “As a Black man, I am repulsed by this transparent and all too obvious attempt to co-opt a movement to pursue a divisive political agenda."

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State Lax in Enforcing Law Meant to Track, Support Minority-owned Businesses – Better Government Association

Since the law went into effect three years ago, 119 companies that had more than $150 million shaved from their tax bills have not submitted any such reports. And of the 61 firms that did file the required reports, nearly three-quarters reported none of the data the law was intended to gather.

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Madigan Lobbying Probe Resumes As A Guilty Plea Is Expected From An Ex-ComEd Official – WBEZ (Chicago)

“We’ll be watching the Marquez court appearance closely to see if there is any additional information that comes out of that,” said State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, who serves as the top Republican on the bipartisan committee investigating Madigan.

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Pritzker to self-isolate for 14 days after staffer tests positive for COVID-19 – WGNTV (Chicago)

“The staffer attended events with the governor on Wednesday in Chicago, Thursday in Marion and Sunday in Marseilles. Both the governor and the staffer were wearing masks during the entirety of their interactions,” according to the statement.

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Ex-ComEd Executive to plead guilty to bribery charges tied to IL House Speaker Mike Madigan – ABC7 (Chicago)

Fidel Marquez is accused of of working "to obtain jobs, contracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and contracts from ComEd and its affiliates, even in instances where such associates performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired to perform for ComEd." A judge at the Dirksen Federal Building will take in his guilty plea Tuesday afternoon, according to court records.

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How Michael Madigan Went To Bat For The Wife And Mother Of The Chairman Investigating The ComEd Scandal – WBEZ (Chicago)

Welch may be even closer to Madigan than most in the House Democratic caucus, judging by the job recommendations and resumes that the speaker’s chief of staff sent to Gov. JB Pritzker’s office in early 2019, shortly before the ComEd scandal burst into public view.

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Northwest part of state might be headed for COVID-19 restrictions – Capitol News IL

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday announced the rate of positive test results had reached 8 percent in Region 1, which extends from DeKalb and Boone counties west to the Iowa border

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Statues of slave owners removed from Capitol grounds – State Journal-Register* (Springfield)

House Speaker Michael Madigan said this summer that he would sponsor a resolution in the House to remove a portrait of Douglas that hangs in the chamber, saying it should be replaced with the portrait of someone who reflects the modern positions of the Democratic Party such as former President Barack Obama.

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Black Lives Matter group, counter protesters trade obscenities, insults in Highland – Belleville News-Democrat

While the original protest was explicitly about Black Lives Matter, the counter protesters had a less specific focus. Signs and chants expressed support for the police, a desire to re-elect President Donald Trump in November, support for the pro-life cause, and calling Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden a pedophile.

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Gov. Pritzker Has Vowed To Make Changes At DCFS, But Multiple Children Whose Families Were Investigated Have Still Been Killed – CBS2 (Chicago)

Alpa Patel is chief deputy with the Cook County Public Guardian’s office."There are certainly some fantastic caseworkers; some fantastic people working with these families and I applaud them. However, sometimes those folks are far and few between in terms of all of the other folks who need the support and training and probably additional coaching in order to do the right job for the clients we serve.”

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Illinois To Receive $8 Million For Distribution Of COVID-19 Vaccine – CBS2 (Chicago)

Of that total, nearly $2 million to the Chicago Department of Public Health, senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced Monday.

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Fury and Frustration: Dealing With Illinois’ Department of Employment Security Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – NBC5 (Chicago)

“Sometimes it feels like reaching out to IDES is a little like throwing a bottle into the ocean. You write this note and you hope someone reads it,” State Representative Anne Stava-Murray said.

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Committee investigating bribery scheme implicating Madigan could vote to subpoena the House speaker, others – Center Square

Committee minority spokesman state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, is disappointed Madigan won’t voluntarily testify. “We should have the opportunity not just to take a submitted statement that he has prepared but to instead bring him in, under oath, and have this conversation in the committee.”

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Bishop Paprocki: ‘Real legal and constitutional concerns’ over ‘extraordinary’ COVID-19 shutdowns – Center Square

Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki made arguments against locking things down because of a virus in the bioethics journal Ethics & Medicine this month. “Yes we should do the ordinary things for protecting life, but we don’t have to do the extraordinary things that are being mandated."

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Student athletes and parents sue to play fall sports – Center Square

Washington High School head football coach Darrell Crouch said his team is ready if the season resumes, but believes it may be getting too late. "I don’t really feel like it's the IHSA that’s dragging their feet, it's our governor and the department of health."

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Dixon State Representative Says Tax Hikes Aren’t Only Option – WCSJ (Morris)

Dixon State Representative Tom Demmer says that comments from Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton last week where she said the alternative for the proposed graduation income tax system was an income tax hike proves the point that reforms aren't being looked at.

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Taking a photo of your filled-in ballot is a felony in Illinois – Illinois Policy

The intent behind the law is straightforward. It’s meant to deter vote-buying: Showing the photo in exchange for cash. But there are other laws in Illinois that explicitly outlaw vote-buying. And there can be First Amendment issues with outlawing this kind of political speech.

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Six months later: The ripple effect of COVID-19 in Central Illinois – The Pantagraph (Bloomington-Normal)

In some cases, Normal Mayor Chris Koos said, there were times when the town could have taken action on certain issues sooner. “I think we were trying to err on the side of personal freedom, and maybe we should have acted quicker."

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Commentary: An Answer to Urban Violence: Take Politics Out of Policing – RealClear Politics

Mark C. Curran Jr., former sheriff and current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate: "Sadly, it is the mayor’s will that the police chief must follow, not the will of the people. And the mayors of major urban centers like Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle have communicated directly with their chiefs of police and told them not to make arrests unless absolutely necessary."

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Pritzker progressive tax campaign wastes over $200K on ads in California, Texas – Illinois Policy

Why Pritzker’s team spent their ad dollars pushing a tax hike outside Illinois remains a question, but Texas and California were the top destinations for those moving out of Illinois – with high taxes the top motivation of those considering a move.

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Madigan gives $2M to Illinois Democratic Party, its largest donation in history – Illinois Policy

By transferring the funds from his account to the party, the funds can also be spent without giving opponents the chance to tie Democrats to Madigan’s money after he was implicated in a $1.3 million bribery scandal involving Commonwealth Edison.

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Class-Action Lawsuit to be Filed Against IHSA to Allow Fall Sports to Begin – NBC5 (Chicago)

The suit, to be filed this week in DuPage County,  alleges that prohibitions on some fall sports violates the IHSA’s constitution and bylaws, and has “caused mental health issues and financial hardships” for athletes and their families. Specifically, the suit alleges that the decision to postpone fall sports will have negative financial impacts on both students and parents, as they will fall behind in their ability to compete for athletic scholarships to make college more affordable.

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Two former Illinois governors, now out of prison, have advice for House Speaker Michael Madigan – Center Square

“You know when the FBI puts their ‘x’ on you that they’re going to prosecute you, they’re only about 92 percent effective. They’re probably the most effective agency in government," said former Gov. George Ryan, who served prison time for federal corruption charges and was the Speaker of the House before Madigan was elected speaker in 1983.

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Restaurants developing cold-weather strategy – Champaign News-Gazette

The outdoor heaters “are really meant for 50-degree nights, not 20-degree nights,” T.J. Blakeman, Champaign’s senior planner for economic development said. “At the end of the day, we live in central Illinois, and the weather’s going to be an issue.”

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New CDC Estimates: Fatality Rate For COVID-19 Drops Again And May Surprise You – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Student-Athletes Protest Outside Pritzker’s Home, Demand Return to Fall Sports – NBC5 (Chicago)

"We're trying to get his attention," said Dave Ruggles, a parent who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We're trying to send a message... he's the guy who's stopping this from happening."

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Illinois Supreme Court names diversity officer – Herald & Review (Decatur)

Since 2008, Deanie Brown, of Springfield, has been associate chancellor for access and equal opportunity at the University of Illinois Springfield.

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Jeffrey Gundlach Tells Realtors in Low-Tax States to ‘Give Me a Call’ – MSN/Bloomberg

In a series of tweets, sent late Saturday on the West Coast, the billionaire investor said that public figures including Elon Musk “are leaving California to escape incompetent governance.” Like many states in need of more revenue due to the economic ravages of the global pandemic, California is considering raising taxes on its richest residents.

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University Park mayor condemns water company for allegedly delaying lead abatement – ABC7 (Chicago)

"If University Park were an affluent white suburb, instead of an African American one, our water would not still be lead-contaminated," Mayor Joseph Roudez III said. Some residents there are now in their 15th month without safe drinking water.

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Haunted hayrides with limits OK, haunted houses aren’t: Pritzker admin changes guidance – Center Square

“Maybe his (Pritzker's) daughter wants to go on hayrides and that’s what’s happened,” said State Rep. Charlie Meier, a hay farmer. “She’s been allowed to go out of state and go to her horse competitions, so maybe she wants to go on a hayride in Illinois and that’s why we’re going to have them, but at least some people are going to enjoy hayrides and for that I’m happy.”

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Daily Debunk: Raising taxes in a recession – 1IL

This apparently is a rebuttal to Wirepoints' recent article about why you don't raise taxes during a recession.

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State And Local Bailout-Aid With Pension Reform Strings Attached? LaHood’s Plan Is Promising But Risky – Forbes

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Pritzker tries to blame Republicans after ally suggests big tax hike coming if voters reject tax amendment – Chicago Tribune*

Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses the cannabis dispensary licensing process during a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Pritzker maintained it was Republicans “that are proposing annihilating the working class and the middle class in Illinois because they have no solutions.” The Democrat castigated his predecessor, one-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, for failing to offer ways to fix Illinois' budget imbalance while presiding over eight credit downgrades in his four years.

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Eligible Unemployed Workers Can’t Get Benefits Through IDES Certification Process – CBS2 (Chicago)

“It’s kind of a mess,” one applicant said. “There’s been so many glitches.”

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Illinois community forms panel to stop nuclear plant closure – AP Illinois

Last year, the Byron School District received more than $19.1 million in taxes from the plant.

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Illinois’ Lauren Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel – The Hill

Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel

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Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says he doesn’t know if Amy Coney Barrett is qualified for Supreme Court – Chicago Tribune*

Durbin voted against Barrett’s nomination to the appeals court both on the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.

Durbin’s previous opposition to Barrett was due to her lack of judicial or courtroom experience as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. He also questioned an academic writing which raised the issue of whether a Catholic judge should recuse themselves from capital punishment cases due to their faith. Barrett, a staunch Catholic, said then that her faith would not play a role in her judicial decisions.

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Trial lawyers keep funding Madigan political war chest, despite bribery scandal; $161K donated in September – Cook County Record

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Gov. Pritzker Pledges Racial Equity, Activists Hear ‘Lip Service’ – Patch

"Why should anybody believe what Gov. J.B. Pritzker says at news conferences? That's a serious question."

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Editorial: Time to lay a LaSalle tax to rest – Crain’s*

New Jersey's proposed tax on financial exchange transactions would likely send New York-based Nasdaq's massive data center business packing from the Garden State. There are lessons for us here.

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Given all the “Fake Nurse” labelling stemming from her infamous 2018 TV commercial, Underwood dons scrubs for first time in 2020 – McHenry County Blog

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Here’s what really happens when states raise taxes on millionaires – Crain’s*

The question now: How likely is a massive flight of millionaires if Illinois voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment allowing graduated tax rates? The experience of other states that have jacked up taxes on the wealthy offers some insight. While millionaires haven't abandoned those states en masse, there's some evidence that the loss of a small number of top earners can have a big impact on the revenue generated by such a hike.

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Pro-Trump crowd in Illinois opposes Trump-bashing ‘Coronavirus Death Scoreboard’ – Fox News

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Youth hockey in Illinois has been frozen by COVID-19 restrictions. Some parents say it’s time for a thaw. – Chicago Tribune*

Gov. J.B. Pritzker often says he is “listening to the experts” about which youth sports are safe to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, but when some hockey parents filed a public records request to learn what those experts were telling him, they received a pile of emails in which almost everything was blacked out.

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Illinois Democratic Senators React to President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee – NBC Chicago

Duckworth to vote against and Durbin says he doesn't know.

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Coronavirus at Illinois long-term care facilities: 27,139 confirmed cases and 4,396 deaths – Chicago Tribune

The data shows outbreaks have occurred at 798 long-term care facilities in 71 counties. Of those, 517 facilities have an “active” outbreak, defined as a positive test result in the past 28 days.

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Editorial: Team Pritzker’s new threat to raise everyone’s taxes – Chicago Tribune*

"This means every Democrat now running for a legislative seat should have to answer this question: 'Will you vote Yea or Nay if the Pritzker administration demands yet another big rise in the income tax?'"

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Home sales are up significantly in Southern Illinois – The Southern Illinoisan* (Carbondale)

Jackson and Williamson counties, in particular, are seeing a boom in activity. “When somebody asks about the housing market, we go, ‘Well, you remember what happened with the toilet paper?’” joked one broker.

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Republicans blast Stratton for tax hike comments – State Journal-Register* (Springfield)

When asked, though, neither Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, nor House Republican Leader Jim Durkin identified where cuts to the budget should be made nor how much.

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Read Speaker Madigan’s letter to the special committee investigating his conduct in alleged ComEd bribery scheme – Chicago Tribune*

"For the record, I am not exercising my Fifth Amendment rights by not appearing before the Committee. As I have said before, I have done nothing wrong."

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Pritzker closes door on football this fall – Center Square

“It is doctors and epidemiologists that are leading the way here,” Pritzker said. “It is what I have done all along in this pandemic. I think it’s one of the reasons we have one of the lowest positivity rates in the Midwest.”

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Madigan won’t testify in front of committee investigating ComEd bribery scandal – Center Square

Because of the ongoing federal probe, Madigan said, “the need to ensure that the federal investigation runs its course without interference or distraction, I do not believe I can provide testimony before the Committee at this time.”

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Pritzker announces $140 million in grants to health centers – Capitol News IL

David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health, said that health center saw a 70 percent drop in its in-person visits due to the stay-at-home order that was in place during the early months of the pandemic. And while he said that was necessary to control the spread of the disease, it cut deeply into the clinic’s regular revenue stream,

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Parents’ careers take a hit amid remote learning, survey finds – Center Square

On top of added stress for parents, closing schools for COVID-19 could cost an estimated $700 billion in lost revenue and productivity, according to a report in Barron's.

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Nearly half of all Illinois statehouse seats uncontested – Center Square

A separate analysis of all states by Ballotpedia found Illinois’ statehouse was the fifth-worst state for competitive races in the 2020 election.

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Commentary: Federal aid to states should protect taxpayers, encourage reforms – Chicago Tribune*

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and Adam Schuster, of the Illinois Policy Institute: "Illinois’ spending on pensions has grown by over 500% in the past two decades while spending on social services for the poor has dropped by one-third. Requests to throw more money into that black hole cannot solve the problem, but real reform can. We can’t support a system that prioritizes spending on debt and pensions over people."

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Pritzker, Illinois GOP respond to threat of 20% tax hike if voters reject progressive income tax – Center Square

“There are three choices that people have,” Pritzker said. “Either you’re going see a 20% increase meaning one full percentage point increase in order to cover that structural deficit...or you’re going see a 15% cut in government, in our budget, which would significantly reduce education funding at the state level, increase property taxes in the state, and would reduce public funding for our safety."

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COVID-19 has closed a few southwest Illinois businesses. Most are trying to hang on. – Belleville News-Democrat

“When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a risk-taker,” said one restaurant owner. “You’re a dream-maker. You want things to happen. But at what point do you have to realize that it’s just not going to work? Do you cut your losses and say, ‘OK, I’m going to try to hold onto this one but let something else go?’ It’s like, ‘Which child do you save?’"

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Sharp criticism follows UI student government action – Champaign News-Gazette

Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, executive director of Illini Chabad, said his organization was “deeply disappointed” by the action taken by student government group and said it should be called out for what it is, anti-Semitism and a “BDS vote...Fighting for the rights of one marginalized community should not come at the expense of another marginalized group.”

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Union fee refund cases from Illinois to be considered by SCOTUS in October – Center Square

Beinot Casanova, a Chicago Transit Authority worker, is seeking a refund of fees she paid to the union from 2016 through 2018. The lead plaintiff in the Janus case, Mark Janus, is also seeking a refund of fees taken from his paycheck as far back as 2013. Both cases will be considered Oct. 9.

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How COVID-19 decimated Illinois nursing homes, exposed government flaws and left families in frustrating limbo – Crain’s

COVID-19 quickly deepened long-standing cracks in the local health care system and is pushing already struggling hospitals to the brink.

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Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton says lawmakers will be forced to consider 20% tax hike if voters nix graduated tax amendment – Center Square

A 20% income tax increase would put the state’s income tax rate at 5.94%. This would also be the highest personal income tax rate in Illinois history. In 2011, lawmakers increased the income tax to 5% and allowed it to sunset before raising it again to 4.95% in 2017.

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LaHood files Taxpayer Protection Act to stop blank-check bailouts of mismanaged states, fix Illinois’ pension crisis – Illinois Policy

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood filed legislation in the U.S. House to ensure federal money supports essential government services during the COVID-19 pandemic – not mountains of pre-existing state and local debt and financial mismanagement.

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‘Nobody knew how to handle this situation’: How COVID-19 decimated Illinois nursing homes, exposed government flaws and left families in frustrating limbo – Chicago Tribune*

Public health officials scrambled to update directives as more was learned about the virus. Gear shortages forced new rules on how to use equipment longer. And there was the sheer challenge of regularly contacting nursing homes to push advice and assess conditions.“With 200 of them (in Cook County), it gets overwhelming very quickly,” said Dr. Demian Christiansen, who heads Cook County’s Communicable Disease Prevention and Control unit.

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Laura Ingraham: ‘Midwest finally has its moment’ in this election, and Illinois is a warning – Fox

Ingraham described Trump's pre-pandmic economic record as "irrefutable proof" his policies work. On the other extreme, she added, there's Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who Ingraham called a "poster boy for failure."

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Column: As state’s finances fall from bad to worse, where’s bottom? – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "This panoply of doom and gloom underscores the reason Pritzker is desperate to pass his income-tax amendment that would dramatically expand the state’s taxing power."

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Op-Ed: Hard to trust Illinois politicians who won’t trust voters with the truth – Center Square

"Pritzker wants unfettered taxing authority so badly that he’s spent $56.5 million of his own money trying to convince voters his is the 'fair tax.' Even his branding of the scheme is a misnomer: There’s nothing fairer than Illinois’ current system that treats everyone the same by taxing them at the same, flat rate."

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Lawmakers discuss lowering compulsory school age – Capitol News IL

While there appeared to be broad support among educators for lowering the mandatory school age in order to expand access to kindergarten, there was much less support for the one of the other proposals being considered – a requirement that students be held back in the third grade if, by the end of that year, they still are not meeting state standards for reading and math skills.

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State Senate GOP outlines ethics package – Capitol News IL

One proposed measure would ban legislators from lobbying other branches of state government or units of local government for compensation – an activity that would have prevented Arroyo from receiving payment for lobbying the city of Chicago while he was a sitting legislator.

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Proposed income tax amendment on minds of interest groups, politicians as early Illinois voting begins – Center Square

Robert Klemm, a farmer and district director with the Illinois Farm Bureau, said the measure is the wrong fix for state government. “It has very large long-term implications of potentially having a much higher tax rate. “They have to spend just as I have to spend my limited budget, to the best of what they can."

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Amid other reforms, Illinois state Senator looks to give local prosecutors power to wiretap public corruption suspects – Center Square

State Sen. John Curran Thursday with other Republicans laid out measures he said would help, saying that local prosecutors can get wiretaps for drug and gang investigations, but not for public corruption investigations, and that needs to change: “The federal government has shown us how they effectively use wiretapping evidence to break through the system of corruption here in Illinois, our local prosecutors need to get in the game."

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Problems with unemployment system continue in Illinois – Center Square

State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, is calling for a hearing with IDES officials: “Bring the director in, and be able to bring constituents in and citizens in and answer some questions and let’s figure out what it’s going to get this fixed. We are 7 months into this pandemic and it is not fixed.”

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Pension Reform Advocates on Eviction Moratorium – Alton Daily News

As a part of the organization's larger series examining Illinois’ financial problems, nonprofit fiscal watchdog Wirepoints said arguments about the feasibility of pension reform continue to be shot down, even by Pritzker’s own legal team...Wirepoints Founder Mark Glennon said. “When the impairment of the contract is reasonably drafted, fair and properly done, then contracts can be impaired.”

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Editorial: Closing Arguments, Part Three: Drs. Pritzker and Madigan, your patient is seriously ill. The ‘fair tax’ is no cure. – Chicago Tribune*

“When we first started thinking about leaving Illinois, we talked to (Illinois) state officials, but all we got was soft rhetoric,” said Andy Gross, CEO of Alliance Steel, which relocated from Illinois to Indiana. “They had no bullets in their gun. There was nobody aggressively trying to keep us in Illinois. It was just soft talk.”

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Allowing daughter to compete out-of-state, Pritzker violated his own health guidelines – Prairie State Wire

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines for sports were developed and mandated by the Pritzker administration. Under those guidelines, athletes in so-called "low risk" sports, like equestrian, are allowed. But participating in out-of-state competitions is prohibited.

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Over 25,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois For Week Of Sept. 14, Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)

That’s down slightly from the 27,384 claims filed in Illinois one week earlier, but nearly four times the 6,538 claims filed in the same timeframe of 2019.

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Indiana set to fully reopen state; Illinois remains stuck – Illinois Policy

While Indiana forges ahead to balance economic recovery with virus prevention, many other states with better COVID-19 numbers have declined to reopen their economies further. Indoor dining in New York City has yet to reopen despite the state’s positivity rate holding under 1% for the past month.

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Hospitalizations for COVID-19 spike to 1,713 as cases hit 2,257 – Daily Herald*

The number of patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 hit 1,713 as of Wednesday night, the highest number since mid-June, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

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ComEd Executives Will Kick Off Special Hearing Into Springfield Bribery Scandal – WBEZ (Chicago)

In addition to employees of ComEd, the Republican members of the committee have sought the voluntary testimony of: Speaker Madigan; the speaker’s longtime friend and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain; former City Club of Chicago CEO Jay Doherty; former Chicago Ald. Michael Zalewski; and past ComEd executives, including ex-CEO Anne Pramaggiore. No potential witnesses have been subpoenaed by the committee.

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Why Are New Jersey’s State Finances Worst In The Nation? – Forbes

It turns out, Illinois is 5% more indebted on a bonds and “other liabilities” (after subtracting off assets) basis, than is New Jersey. Illinois is likewise 6% more indebted in terms of its unfunded pensions. But Illinois’s debt for retiree medical is about half the size of New Jersey’.

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Pritzker, Lightfoot, Preckwinkle Discuss ‘Miscarriage Of Justice,’ Upcoming Protests In Shooting Death Of Breonna Taylor – CBS2 (Chicago)

They urged peaceful protests. “This ruling is absolutely heartbreaking. It leaves more questions than it answers. My fear is that it reinforces the deeply held notion that there are two sides of justice. As a lawyer, former federal prosecutor and a defense attorney, I know that our flawed system, our criminal justice often feels unfair and can be brutal, particularly to people of color,” Lightfoot said.

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Controversial ‘no-knock’ warrants questioned in Breonna Taylor case are legal in Illinois – Chicago Sun-Times*

The CPD’s use of no-knock warrants has come under scrutiny in recent years, with several lawsuits filed against officers who allegedly used no-knock warrants to search the homes of people who’ve done nothing wrong.

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Column: This time, it’s GOP that has state Supreme Court justice in its sights – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "Retention elections are designed to remove politics from what is supposed to be the nonpolitical process of deciding court cases strictly on their legal merits. But it’s well nigh impossible to eliminate politics from politics, as the ongoing judicial election battles demonstrate."

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Yelp releases dismal report on business closures in Illinois – Center Square

Norma Lansing, president of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, said her area has fared okay with business closings with just a few, but one local business recently closed up shop because the pandemic has changed the way we do things. “Most recent ones like the Family Video store and they specifically said it was pandemic related. People are now using streaming services and people have not been able to get out and about.”

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Cannabis sales in Illinois to out-of-state residents nearly doubles – Center Square

Of the nearly $64 million in total adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois for August, $17.2 million was in “out-of-state resident sales.” That’s nearly double the $8.6 million in out-of-state sales back in January.

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Greg Hinz on Wirepoints’ pension report: A pension reform plan that works—or a great white whale? – Crain’s*

"The multipoint plan says the state could do away with its pension woes while helping many government workers and relieving a huge strain on state finances. Is that true? Or is Wirepoints playing Ahab to the pension-reform great white whale? I suspect the truth involves a bit of each."

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Pritzker: Positivity rate still too high in Illinois – Capitol News IL

Pritzker also noted that Region 1 of the state’s reopening plan, which includes Rockford in Winnebago County and several surrounding counties in northwest Illinois, has seen its positivity rate rise to 7.5 percent. That’s higher than Region 4, which includes the Metro East area along the Missouri border near St. Louis, which currently sits at 7.3 percent.

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Indiana to move to Stage 5 of coronavirus reopening Saturday – Indianapolis Star

Masks will still be required, but most businesses may reopen at full capacity.

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Glenview Man Sues Illinois Department of Employment Security, Says He’s Owed Thousands In Benefits After System ‘Glitch’ – CBS2 (Chicago)

White said he wanted to file the lawsuit not only to get the money he believes he’s owed, but to also stand up for all of those who are unemployed in Illinois struggling to navigate the state’s flawed unemployment system. “There’s people that can’t feed their kids, there’s people that can’t pay their mortgage, that can’t pay their rent. This has caused them hardships that has altered their life tremendously.” 

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Did extra unemployment money keep workers on the sidelines? – Center Square

A University of Chicago professor and his colleague applied some simple macroeconomic modeling to that thought and found it’s probably more complicated than it seems: “Only workers with a low previous wage, an almost certain return-to-work offer, and very low wage losses after unemployment would turn down their old job and remain unemployed under the CARES Act.”

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S&P warns delayed spending cuts could push Illinois into ‘non-investment grade’ territory – Center Square

“The lack of additional federal stimulus increases the likelihood of a worse economic outcome,” the report said. “Furthermore, potential layoffs at state and local government levels could contribute to a lasting drag on Illinois' economy.”

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Orion Samuelson to retire after 60 years at WGN Radio – Robert Feder

The self-described “unknown cow milker from western Wisconsin” was born on a dairy farm near LaCrosse, and got his start on radio stations in Sparta, Appleton and Green Bay. At age 26, Samuelson got the call to join 50,000-watt powerhouse WGN, where he began as farm director on September 26, 1960.

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JudicialWatch Sues State of Illinois for Refusing to Disclose Voter Roll Data in Violation of Federal Law – Press Release

The Illinois Conservative Union sent a public records request under this provision to the Illinois State Board of Elections, requesting information about the maintenance of voter rolls, including the most recent voter registration list for Illinois. The request noted that the records “would be used solely for purposes intended by federal law, namely, to ensure the accuracy and currency of the official list of eligible voters,” the complaint said.

The State Board of Elections denied the request, claiming that only political committees or governmental bodies may receive copies of records.

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Report: Illinois fiscal health again 2nd worst in U.S. – Illinois Policy

"Instead of working to address the problem, Gov. J.B. Pritzker blamed the state’s financial issues on the pandemic, in April saying Illinois would have had a budget surplus if not for COVID-19. That is false. His current budget is based on federal aid that may never come and a progressive tax that voters may not approve."

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Pritzker readies Illinois National Guard ahead of possible announcement in Breonna Taylor case – FOX32 (Chicago)

The decision was made after a Tuesday morning meeting between Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, according to the governor's spokesperson.

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Column: Future dark if pension woes are ignored – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "Financial analysts at Wirepoints are used to being perceived by members of Illinois’ political establishment as the skunks at the garden party."

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Gov. Pritzker puts Illinois National Guard ‘in a state of readiness’ ahead of Kentucky announcement in Breonna Taylor case – Chicago Tribune*

If needed to respond, the Guard members would fall under the direction of the state police, just as they were when they helped during civil unrest in Chicago following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

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Secretary of State’s letter to millions of Illinois voters causes confusion over mail-in voting – WGNTV (Chicago)

“Our office simply used a mailing list that they provided to us and sent letters to everyone that was on that list by September 15,” said Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White. “Under the law we’re required to send one more letter October 15 using the list of names provided to us at that time by the Illinois State Board of Elections."

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GOP forms coalition to oppose Illinois Supreme Court Justice Kilbride – Center Square

Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider called Kilbride a pawn of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan. “Time and time again, Kilbride has sided with government insiders and special interests over taxpayers, leading to higher taxes and more corruption here in the most corrupt state in the nation."

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Survey of bankers looks at economic recovery in Illinois – Center Square

Compared to the same time last year, Illinois’ Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 8.1% of its nonfarm employment representing 390,000 jobs.

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Citing Major Issues with COVID-19 Data, Schimpf and Plummer Call on Pritzker to Reopen Metro East Immediately – State Sen. Jason Plummer

Because many Metro East residents utilize Missouri hospitals for medical care and COVID-19 testing services, only including positive test results from those providers would dramatically increase the reported positivity rate for the region.

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Pritzker’s Illinois prep sports ban excepts his equestrian daughter, Teddi – Prairie State Wire

Teddi’s behavior flies in the face of Pritzker’s order against reinstating the Illinois high school athletic season.

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Pot Shop Applicants Getting 2nd Chance To Try To Get Illinois Licenses After Protests, Lawsuits – Block Club Chicago

While the state repeatedly said every finalist qualified as a social equity applicant, the winning groups included a clouted list of powerful interests, including Chicago restaurateur Phil Stefani, former Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard and others with ties to existing cannabis operators.

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Illinois gets a failing grade for finances – Center Square

Truth in Accounting CEO Sheila Weinberg said, “People around the country were not paying attention to Illinois’ reckless behavior but now they have to because Illinois is going to the federal government and asking taxpayers around the country for a bailout."

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Illinois, federal proposals would give parents of virtual students more than $20,000 – Center Square

A study from BankRate found 3 out of 5 parents nationwide said remote learning will negatively impact their finances, with more than a third saying they would have to either reduce their hours at work or quit altogether.

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Financial State of the State’s 2020 – Truth in Accounting

New Jersey and Illinois are the worst "sinkhole states."

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Madison County Court Allowed Eviction Cases To Proceed Despite Illinois’ Statewide Ban – St. Louis Public Radio

Circuit Court Chief Judge Bill Mudge told St. Louis Public Radio, “There are varying interpretations of what is permissible and what is not. Reasonable minds may disagree on this point.” Mudge said the court received various and sometimes “ambiguous and conflicting eviction directives” from the governor, the Illinois Supreme Court and the federal government.

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New funding, no capacity changes for child care facilities across Illinois – ABC20 (Springfield)

Christine Underwood, who has operated her home day care for 23 years, said, "There's a lot of days cares shutting down because they can't afford to stay open, especially the big day cares because they're only working at 60 percent capacity. Grant or not, they're still losing a ton of money."

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ComEd, Peoples Gas, Aqua Illinois, And Several Other Illinois Public Utilities Extend Moratoriums On Shutoffs Through March 31, 2021 – CBS2 (Chicago)

Officials said public utility customers who have missed bill payments or are having trouble paying their bills don’t need written proof of their struggles to ensure their service isn’t shut off, but do need to call their supplier about their issues.

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Report: 39 states ill-prepared for economic crisis resulting from coronavirus-related state shutdowns – Center Square

The 11th annual Financial State of the States report published by Truth in Accounting found New Jersey ranked the worst, having the highest taxpayer burden of $57,900 per taxpayer, meaning each taxpayer would need to pay $57,900 to pay New Jersey’s debt. Illinois was not far behind, reporting a $52,000 taxpayer burden.

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CUB’s ‘Conflict’: How A Utility Watchdog Got Millions From The Utilities It Watches – WBEZ

Under a 1983 state law, the Citizens Utility Board can’t accept power company money. But WBEZ has found it took in $11.5 million from ComEd-funded foundations.

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Illinois May Look More Like Junk as Pressure Rises, S&P Says – Bloomberg

“The magnitude of the current budget gap and reliance on one-time measures make us question Illinois’ ability to achieve structural balance in a reasonable time,” the analysts wrote.

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Pension reform advocates say eviction moratorium makes case for pension reform – Center Square

“His own lawyers are arguing that there’s an exception right now that applies to the eviction moratorium,” Wirepoints Founder Mark Glennon said of Gov. Pritzker. “When the impairment of the contract is reasonably drafted, fair and properly done, then contracts can be impaired.”

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Editorial: Rooting for government merger mania in cash-strapped Illinois – Chicago Tribune*

"This state has more government units than any other: nearly 7,000 of them, including villages, townships, housing authorities and drainage districts. Every one takes its share of dollars from you, the taxpayers. Many of these taxing bodies operate without much scrutiny and offer services that could be handled by others. Many provide taxpayer-funded pensions."

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Illinois Now Only Midwest State Not Playing High School Football After Minnesota Vote – NBC5 (Chicago)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been steadfast in his administration's opposition to resuming football and several other fall sports. “I want fall sports, all fall sports, I really do. These are very, very hard choices, and my job, in part, is to weigh in on those choices and listen to the doctors.”

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State Senator demands Illinois COVID-19 mitigations be lifted immediately because of incomplete data – Center Square

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said he doesn't think the testing data has been complete in Region 4 because it doesn't include the negative results from Illinois residents who use a hospital system in the St. Louis area. He said the mitigations keeping bars and restaurants from allowing dine-in service is “destroying livelihoods.”

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USDA Secretary Perdue visits central Illinois farmers after handing out food boxes – Center Square

Macoupin County Farm Bureau Executive Director Mark Dugger said farmers have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they implement best practices handed down from generations before them. “(T)hese guys would rather have free trade and a free market than a government check.”

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Pritzker Again Defends High School Sports Decision, Touts Testing Capacity – NPR Illinois

Pritzker said looking to colleges or the NFL isn’t a fair comparison because they are doing more testing, cleaning and quarantining. “I mean it’s a lot different in high schools across the state in Illinois. High schools can’t afford to do that kind of thing."

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Lawmaker apologizes after being accused of making racist, homophobic remarks – Center Square

“I deeply regret the comments I made about Ken Mejia-Beal and reached out to apologize to him this morning. These comments do not reflect my heart or my faith,” Republican state Rep. Amy Grant wrote on Facebook.

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Pritzker to Republican ‘hypocrites:’ ‘whoever wins the election’ should appoint Ginsburg replacement – WCIA (Champaign)

“In terms of the politics of this, I believe strongly that the Republicans should listen to their own words,” he said. “They’re the ones who dictated back in 2016 that Merrick Garland should not be considered by the Senate until after the election, until we knew who won the election. These very same senators now seem to be hypocrites changing their position.”

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Child care in need of more COVID relief: Pritzker – One Illinois

“I know it wasn’t easy to implement all the health protocols,” Pritzker said. But he pointed out those centers are critical for working families and are a potential bottleneck in the effort to get parents back to work, and that it was up to government to fund the upgrades rather than force already-struggling working families to pay more tuition to cover them.

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Opinion: Everyone wins in a graduated tax system – Crain’s

"High levels of inequality distort free markets, reduce investment, impede entrepreneurs and slow overall economic growth."

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A Mother’s Day spent moving dirt at the dump? Bloomingdale Twp. Road District invoices under scrutiny – Daily Herald*

Federal prosecutors have charged Czernek with fraud and receiving more than $280,000 in kickbacks related to phony invoices for dump and storm sewer projects. He is one of three people charged, all of whom pleaded not guilty Friday.

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We asked: How has the pandemic affected you financially? Some of the answers were heartbreaking. – Chicago Sun-Times*

About half of Chicago households surveyed for a recent poll done by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said the impact of COVID-19 has left them facing serious financial problems, with Black and Latino families particularly hard-hit.

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Unpaid, delayed unemployment benefits leave many without financial support – ABC7 (Chicago)

Monday marks six months since Illinois' stay-at-home order went into effect in response to COVID-19; The state says that since March its distributed nearly $16 billion. But one mother of young children, waiting since March to receive benefits, says, "The only thing that was told to me was that they were as confused as I was and that it will be given over to a different department for them to contact me."

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Douglas statue comes down, but Lincoln had racist views, too – AP Illinois

Allen Guelzo, a Princeton University scholar and three-time Lincoln Prize winner who co-created a five-step decision-making analysis for the removal of newly scrutinized memorials, believes that if Illinois uproots Douglas, Lincoln should follow, disqualified by the Matson case and his stance during the Charleston debate.

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IHSA athletes, coaches gather in Springfield to urge Illinois: ‘Let us play’ – Peoria Journal-Star

That included Peoria High football coach Tim Thornton and some of his players. Thornton said the protest goes beyond just the game of football. “This is a tool a lot of our kids use for their lives. A lot of them get their family from football. A lot of them get their direction and football becomes their compass."

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Commentary: Evaluating latest ad for Illinois’ proposed progressive tax – Champaign News-Gazette

Wirepoints' Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner: "The proposed rates are projected to bring in $3.6 billion in new revenue, far short of what’s necessary, absent reforms, to cover Illinois’ structural deficits and unpaid bills, the true costs of its public-pension plans, and more. Add up those costs, and politicians need to raise $10 billion in new revenues annually."

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Illinois Governor Pritzker’s Claim Of Following the Science And Data Appears To Be False…According To The Data – Illinois Leaks

"Who knew, until now, churches only accounted for 2.3% of the cases in Illinois? Or that Retail Stores only account for 1.2% and Sports teams -.97%. Those massive restaurant and bar closures, the bars had fewer numbers than the restaurants, 3.39% for the bars and 4.97% for the Restaurants."

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Column: Which government workers get a holiday for election? – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "...(T)he Springfield-based Illinois Municipal League filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County against the Illinois State Elections Board on behalf of the villages of Bolingbrook and Southern View that seeks a judicial interpretation as to whether the Election Day holiday applies to municipalities. Brad Cole, the municipal league’s executive director, said the lawsuit is 'not meant to be antagonistic...We couldn’t not get an answer, and we need an answer,' he said. 'All of this could have been avoided if we’d gotten an answer when we asked.'"

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The FY2021 Capital Budget Enacted by the General Assembly – Civic Federation

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Big Ten’s return to play a hopeful first step for area economy – Champaign News-Gazette

“We’re not necessarily going to gain any business from it, but I’m truly hoping this is one step closer to putting people in attendance,” said Kevin Dandrea, general manager of an Urbana hotel. “You’ve got to play the game to get people in the stands. At least we’re playing the game. Then we can work on part two.”    

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Lawmakers from Illinois’ neighbors oppose federal bailout – Center Square

“It is a pleasure to be a neighbor to Illinois because we do benefit from a lot of their craziness,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana.

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Judge nixes bid to block Illinois Vote by Mail over fears of Dem cheating; Affirms limits on ballot harvesting – Cook County Record

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U.S. Attorney: Lawmakers free to pursue Madigan probe – Capitol News IL

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Moratorium on utility shutoffs winding down – Center Square

On Friday, Pritzker abruptly ended a news conference in Macomb after people in the crowd began chanting “No utility shutoffs.”

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Students rally in Loop asking Pritzker to bring back fall sports – ABC Chicago

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Pandemic’s Toll on Public Pension Plans – RealClear Politics

"When the recession eases, states and local governments will be under pressure to improve funding of their pension systems. It can be done when there’s a political will to do it. Wisconsin, just north of Illinois, the nation’s perennial pension problem child, has a fully funded state retirement system. In fact, it’s the only state that’s over-funded, with 103% of what it needs to provide benefits for every present and future retiree."

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Opinion: Illinois’ beleaguered housing market faces a new threat from Pritzker’s progressive tax – Crain’s*

Economist Orphe Divounguy:  "If the tax passes Nov. 3, Illinois homeowners could see close to a 20 percent decline in housing appreciation during the next decade. But it's still not just homeowners who would suffer. When homeowners are less wealthy, they spend less. That means less business revenue, less new investment and fewer new jobs. The entire economy suffers."

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As they focused on others with COVID-19 and refused to walk away, Illinois health care workers bore the brunt of pandemic’s fury – Chicago Tribune*

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Letter: Graduated income tax for Illinois threatens small business owners like me – Chicago Sun-Times*

"My name is Chris Plywacz and I am the proud owner of Reeg Plumbing, a small business in the western suburbs.... This amendment will give a big foot to Springfield politicians to step on small businesses like mine and diminish opportunities for us to create jobs or even expand our businesses.... Many of my customers have left this state because of our taxes....  After years of tax hikes, people fleeing the state and trying to weather a pandemic, Illinois is on the brink of collapse. I can’t think of a worse time to raise taxes."

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Illinois State Police cite restaurant after it served customers indoors despite ban – Belleville News Democrat

The Illinois State Police released a statement that said the agency was asked by the Illinois Department of Public Health for assistance in enforcing the health department emergency rules “because of a consistently high positivity rate in Region 4 and complaints about a small number of businesses violating public health rules.”

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Column: Feds, not House probe, are Madigan’s real problem – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "It’s a challenge for Democrats, who hope voters won’t hold them all responsible for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s alleged role in this criminal conspiracy. It’s an opportunity for hapless Republicans, who hope the scandal will breathe life into their efforts to return to relevancy in state government."

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COVID-19’s Learning Losses Greater For Black And Low Income Students – NPR Illinois

Robin Steans, president of the education advocacy nonprofit Advance Illinois, says white students have lost six months of learning on average. The loss is over 10 months for Black students and more than 12 months for those from low income families. The information was offered in a Senate hearing called by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

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Illinois receives $1.3 billion from FEMA for $300 in weekly federal jobless benefits authorized by President Trump – Chicago Tribune*

The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Friday it began disbursing the funds Sept. 6 for the weeks between July 26 and Aug. 15 and has paid out more than $650 million to about 700,000 eligible claimants.

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Editorial: Closing Arguments, Part Two: If you support the ‘Pritzker Tax,’ this one’s for you – Chicago Tribune*

"Other states with graduated income tax rates that are running smoothly are running smoothly because they are well-run states — not because of the 'magic' of a graduated tax structure."

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House investigative committee calls for Madigan testimony in corruption scandal – Illinois Policy

The requests do not include subpoenas, meaning the committee is requesting their voluntary cooperation at the committee's next hearing, Sept. 29.

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Editorial: To avoid ‘nightmare’ cuts, state leaders must fight for federal funds while balancing budget – Chicago Sun-Times*

"It’s not 'either/or.' It’s 'both.'"

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Pension expert says diversity measures in investing could cost Illinois taxpayers – Center Square

Joshua Scharf, senior fellow in fiscal policy for the Independence Institute in Colorado, said any evidence that superior money managers getting passed over for others who may meet diversity standards could run afoul of the pension board’s fiduciary duty to maximize returns and minimize risks for pensioners’ retirement funds.

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Illinoisans building homes despite a lumber shortage – Center Square

“Historic traffic numbers have builders seeing positive market conditions, but many in the industry are worried about rising costs and delays for building materials, especially lumber,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said.

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Southern Illinois mother starts pod learning service after virtual learning chaos – Center Square

“People are sending their kids back to school and then being told that they could pull the plug on it at any time because there’s an outbreak and we have to do something different,” she said.

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In Search Of Answers From IDES To About Unemployment Fraud – CBS2 (Chicago)

IDES Deputy Director Trina Taylor said when it comes to dealing with fraud and overpayment, IDES “continue(s) to fall below the passing percentage established by the U.S. Department of Labor....At the start of the pandemic, all of our Benefit Payment Control staff were reassigned to assist with incoming calls and claim processing."

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Illinois region to return to Phase 4; indoor dining, larger gatherings may resume with restrictions – WGNTV (Chicago)

Said Governor JB Pritzker of Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, “Let that be a testament to the power of a community that embraces doctor-recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread.

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New study links pollution to COVID-19 deaths – Center Square

Senior Research Analyst Adam Johnson said Illinois was found to rank sixth most polluted and had the tenth highest rate of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people.

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Official Illinois progressive tax explainer ranges from misleading to wrong – Illinois Policy

Some of the misleading pamphlet arguments are repeated on the actual ballots in what is supposed to be a neutral description of the amendment. That potentially violates the “free and equal elections” clause of the state constitution.

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Terry Link May Lose His Legislative Pension – McHenry County Blog

Lake County Democrat Terry Link was elected State Senator before the law went into effect prohibiting legislators from spending campaign money for personal expenses.

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Pritzker extends eviction ban again while courts weigh challenge – Center Square

The moratorium will now extend into its seventh month even though Pritzker lifted the stay-at-home order on May 29. He said Wednesday that more than 100,000 tenants have applied for the state's rental assistance program. The program only has funding for about 40,000 people.

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Emotional arguments project hope and fear as voters set to decide what could be Illinois’ biggest taxation shift in four decades – Chicago Tribune*

“It’s the ultimate policy wonk question” for voters not often asked to take sides on such weighty policy questions, said University of Illinois at Chicago political scientist Christopher Mooney. "People in Illinois are not used to dealing with this. We’re not used to having to think fairly deeply about significant policy issues. We just don’t do it here.”

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Feds OK lawmakers to subpoena Madigan, other witnesses about ComEd dealings – Center Square

Lausch cautioned the lawmakers to stay away from asking witnesses about statements or documents they’ve been asked to provide the grand jury in the course of the ongoing federal investigation, and stressed lawmakers not disclose any proposed grant of immunity from investigators, saying it could significantly interfere with the federal corruption probe.

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Illinoisans 51% more likely to be laid off, 21% less likely to be hired than U.S. average – Illinois Policy

"The August numbers are another step in the right direction, but Illinois is still facing a long road to recovery and must focus on policies that will foster a healthy labor market where businesses can feel confident in their futures and hire Illinoisans who are in desperate need of work."

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SIU cutting $10.4 million from general operating budget, plus $3 million from Athletics – The Southern Illinoisan* (Carbondale)

SIU’s vice chancellor for Administration and Finance said the Carbondale campus is also reviewing its tuition discounting practices, much of which relies upon the granting of tuition waivers. Identifying cash funding to use instead of waivers “will improve our bottom line even with the same number of students,” she said.

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Column: Wise to cancel games, even wiser to play them – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "It seems that everyone put on their thinking caps and came up with the proper ingredients to ensure, as Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald put it, 'that our guys have a safe opportunity to play the game they love.'"

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State Senator Calls On Gov. JB Pritzker To Waive Penalty Weeks For Unemployment During COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)

“I was overpaid $143 two years ago,” Illinois resident Ken Scott said. “Twenty-four (weeks) is the penalty they gave me for $143 overpayment,” he said. “It’s been $7,000 that was supposed to have come to me that they have taken over penalties.”

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Higher education board looks at gender equity – Capitol News IL

Undergraduate enrollment among Black Illinoisans of either gender has fallen sharply in the last decade. For both groups, the change in enrollment from 2013 to 2018 was a decrease of around 30 percent.

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How will consumer spending rebound? Experts differ – Center Square

Some consumers will continue to go shopping at stores, about 30% said they were not concerned about visiting stores during the pandemic. In Illinois, the percentage was higher (74%).

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Illinois won’t take part in Trump’s payroll tax deferral program – Capitol News IL

“I'm not supporting a deferral that would double workers taxes after January and put Social Security further at risk. I mean, that's essentially what this would do,” Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.

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Illinois Tollway shows how political promises are easily broken – Illinois Policy

Illinois tolls were supposed to be temporary. A progressive tax is only supposed to hurt 3% of Illinoisans. Political promises mean little in Illinois.

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Trump Calls For More Stimulus Money, Pritzker Warns of ‘Thousands’ of State Layoffs – WTTW (Chicago)

Ted Dabrowski, president of Wirepoints, believes that even though the governor may call for them, 5% cuts across the board would be difficult to achieve. “It’s a tricky thing because there are many things in government that can’t be cut. They can’t cut pensions. We know we can’t cut retiree health insurance payments or insurance. You are talking about billions and billions of dollars that can't be touched.”

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Illinois governor sounds budget alarms – The Bond Buyer

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Lawmakers Tangle Over Fed’s Muni-Market Rescue – The Bond Buyer

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Municipal bond investors have to share the burden in state bailouts – The Hill

Stanford's Joshua Rauh, formerly a Norwestern prof: "Congress has to therefore condition any further bailout funds on shared losses by municipal bond investors. For instance, the law can mandate that state governments pass legislation that would write off a dollar of municipal bond debt for every dollar of additional grants given to a state or local government."  

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Mobilizing the National Guard Doesn’t Mean Your State Is Under Martial Law. Usually. – ProPublica Illinois

Brad Leighton, a lieutenant colonel and public affairs director of the Illinois guard, said, "The National Guard is designed to come in when all other resources are exhausted. We’re the first military responders, but we’re the last one when the civilian capacity has been exhausted completely."

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Over 23,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois For Week Of Sept. 7, Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported 25,478 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of August 24 in Illinois, and 22,406 new unemployment claims filed during the week of August 10 in Illinois.

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Former state Sen. Terry Link pleads guilty in tax evasion case – Center Square

Link could face a sentence of 10 to 16 months in prison, but prosecutors said they will recommend probation if he cooperates.

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Speaker Madigan’s Corruption Nurtured Illinois’ Pension Debt – RealClear Politics

"Whenever Madigan does leave his seat of power, many frustrated Illinoisans will breathe a sigh of relief. That will also be the time to begin the hard work of undoing Madigan’s dual legacies of corruption and debt. Two places to start are amending the Illinois Constitution’s pension clause and replacing the House rules that Madigan used to craft Illinois’ infamous culture of corruption and pit of debt."

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John Kass: If the little things get to you, then you’re probably a voter – Chicago Tribune*

"According to a University of Illinois study that tracked thousands of journalists’ social media accounts, this virtual universe isn’t expanding, but rather, constantly fragmenting.'Findings suggest Washington journalists may be operating in even smaller, more insular microbubbles than previously thought, raising additional concerns about vulnerability to groupthink and blind spots,' says the University of Illinois study."

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Leaked Video Shows Democratic Rep Sean Casten Rapping About How Trump Supporters Are ‘Racist’ And ‘Loony’ – Daily Caller

“Yeah I said it, so sue me yeah, cause a base that ain’t nothing but a lazy excuse. Made by a man who knows that his views got frozen in time ’bout 1962.”

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Illinois Democratic governor says if the federal government does not bail out his state, it will face ‘nightmare scenario’ of a 5% budget cut – The Blaze

House Republican leader Jim Durkin told the Sun-Times, "This may be the worst budget in recent memory. My caucus will gladly return to Springfield to fix this disaster with a reality check on our finances and hopefully avoid further damage to our state."

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Breaking the memo: Madigan investigative committee sending two letters to U.S. Attorney – WREX (Rockford)

Chairman Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Rep. Tom Demmer couldn’t come to an agreement on how to document their Monday phone call with U.S. Attorney John Lausch. Instead, the Democrat and Republican sent separate letters including their personal understanding of what happened.

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Pritzker Extends Ban on Evictions Another Month, Once Again – WTTW (Chicago)

State officials are in the process of notifying those who won grants from a lottery used to distribute more than $300 million in help to landlords and tenants struggling to make ends meet. Funds began to flow on Thursday to those who applied for assistance paying their rent and mortgage, and should be completed by Oct. 31.

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Pritzker says health, safety take priority over fall sports – Center Square

The Big Ten Conference on Wednesday reversed course to allow football this fall, and neighboring states such as Missouri and Indiana plan to allow high school football to continue. Pritzker said Wednesday that is one of the tragedies of not having a national strategy.

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Illinois’ Black lawmakers detail education agenda – Center Square

Said state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, "We cannot afford to have another generation of students to be on the school-to-prison pipeline. In Illinois, 22 percent of Black students are ready for kindergarten, 15 percent can read by fourth grade, and Black students have a 75 percent graduation rate. Each of those metrics falls behind children of different races.

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When Illinois politicians call taxes ‘temporary’ or ‘fair,’ they won’t be – Illinois Policy

"Following the Great Recession in 2011, former Gov. Pat Quinn and state lawmakers jacked taxes up from 3% to 5%, again with the promise it would be temporary. Quinn said the increase was to help the state pay the bills and regain sound financial footing. Former Senate President John Cullerton promised it would help pay for pensions without borrowing."

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Lawmaker who voted for ‘fair tax’ pleads guilty to tax fraud – Illinois Policy

Link was the fourth state legislator who supported Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive income tax amendment to be charged with a crime in the past year. He is now the third member to resign.

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Clouted mix of insiders, others tied to state politics behind social equity pot bid – Chicago Sun-Times*

The company submitted 25 perfect applications under the name GRI Holdings LLC, meaning it could win the right to open up to 10 stores. Under one estimate, those licenses could be worth more than $133 million. But GRI’s registered managers make up a clouted mix of insiders and others with ties to state politics.

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A State Order To Prevent Homelessness Is Causing It For Some – CBS2 (Chicago)

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently stopped accepting applications for its Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program in early September. IHDA says almost 20,000 homeowners applied.

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Gamblers place $52.5 million sports bets in July. The most bet on sport? Soccer. – Daily Herald*

"I believe that's a pretty good month, but I don't have anything to compare it to," said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association. "I think since the casinos just reopened with 50% occupancy, and now four with just 25%, this is going to help us."

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More southwest Illinois schools are bringing kids back to classrooms – Belleville News-Democrat

Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 was one of the first districts to move from a hybrid plan to full remote learning once the testing numbers began to spike at the end of summer break. It also was the first to bring students back into the classrooms, which it began doing last Tuesday.

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Pritzker Reveals Why the Big Ten Decision is Different From High School Sports – NBC5 (Chicago)

"We have watched professional sports and even some college teams play, seemingly without many problems," Pritzker said. "But remember these programs are operating with daily testing or in a league-created bubble or with facilities that allow for outsized social distancing and are sanitized every day, and in some cases all of those precautions have been taken. That’s not what’s available to the vast majority of young people who play sports in Illinois."

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U.S. attorney gives go-ahead to Illinois House committee investigating Madigan – Illinois Policy

House Republicans offered this version of the conversation with the U.S. Attorney’s office: “There was no indication we have to stay within the parameters of the (deferred prosecution agreement). There was no objection to asking witnesses to testify. They didn’t want us asking for docs that a witness (mainly ComEd) would have gotten from the Feds and were not included in the DPA. It was specific to the DPA.”

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Madigan’s war chest is overflowing – Crain’s*

Despite one of the biggest scandals of his tenure, House Speaker Mike Madigan’s campaign coffers are the biggest they’ve ever been with roughly $25 million cash on hand going into the final stretch of the 2020 election season, according to campaign finance records.

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Pritzker Announces $245 Million In New Aid For Small Businesses; Predicts State And Local Budget Cuts Without Federal Support – CBS2 (Chicago)

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Transportation spending shows ‘fair tax’ ripe for waste – Illinois Policy

"The 2019 capital bill came with huge tax and fee hikes, including a doubled state gas tax, with the promise to repair roads among other things. However, the Illinois Policy Institute identified $1.4 billion of waste in the plan, including dog parks, pickleball courts and money for a privately owned, defunct theater."

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Pritzker Remains Adamant High School Football Won’t be Allowed This Fall – NBC5 (Chicago)

Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, echoed Pritzker’s comments, saying that the city’s focus should be on getting children back into classrooms instead of onto football fields. “If we’re not in a situation where it’s safe to have Chicago Public Schools in session, I don’t feel that we’re in a safe situation to be playing sports, to be perfectly honest.”

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IDES’ new callback system ‘has turned out to be a failure’ – ABC20 (Springfield)

Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said his office has heard from hundreds of constituents who have been waiting for months for a phone call: "The governor told us we were going to have this great system. Well, the great system has turned out to be a failure and the Governor's Office and his team don't answer any questions about it."

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker doubles down, won’t allow high school football – Chicago Sun-Times*

“We have the lowest positivity rate in the Midwest,” Pritzker said. “Still too high. The states you are talking about all have very high positivity rates. Double-digit positivity rates in most. Those are states, fine, if they decided to endanger children and families in those states by allowing certain contact sports to take place that is their decision. It’s not something that is good for the families and the children of Illinois.”

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Senate committee eyes changes to sentencing laws in Illinois – Center Square

The Illinois law requires that nearly all violent offenders serve 85% to 100% of their sentences. Prior to the enactment of the law, offenders served on average 44% of their sentences.

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Pritzker provides few details about possible budget cuts – Center Square

The budget frustrated Ted Dabrowski, president of financial watchdog Wirepoints.com. "This is by far the most irresponsible budget ever passed by an Illinois legislature," Dabrowski said in June. "It spends a record amount of money in the middle of one of the worst recessions ever... In all, lawmakers have run up a deficit of over $6 billion and they’re counting on the federal government to bail out the state."

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Pritzker Warns of Cuts, ‘Nightmare Scenario’ If Federal Government Doesn’t Step In – NBC Chicago

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Feds OK Illinois lawmakers to investigate Madigan bribery scandal, but what can they do? – Center Square

The Illinois House of Representatives will continue its proceedings after U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. told the House Special Investigation Committee that it would be allowed to move forward as long as it doesn't jeopardize his ongoing probe into ComEd and the company's patronage and bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.

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DCFS Faces A Housing Crisis – NPR Illinois

"Simply increasing DCFS’ budget and meting out more money to child welfare service providers is only the first step in the long process of actually increasing Illinois’ child welfare capacity — a process that may prove too slow to meet the rise in need as the Covid-19 pandemic wears on."

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Void the police contracts – The Hill

Comment: This article also relates directly to pension reform in Illinois. It explains, just as we did in our posts this week, why the Contract Clause does not stand in the way of pension reform, as Gov. Pritzker and other reform opponents claim. As this article says, government “can govern according to their discretion . . . but they cannot give away nor sell the discretion of those that are to come after them.” 

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Illinois to offer $245 million to businesses impacted by COVID-19 as state adds 1,466 cases, 20 deaths – WGNTV (Chicago)

Funding made available through a second round of “Business Interruption Grants” will give $220 million to affected businesses, Pritzker said, while $25 million in “Rebuild Distressed Communities” grants will cover the costs of “civil-unrest related repairs.”

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Illinois farmers encouraged by recent sales to China – Center Square

The agreement was a relief for Illinois farmers, who were anxious to resume major trading with their largest customer after the damage that the soybean market has suffered in the past two years due to the U.S. tariff battle with China.

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U.S. attorney’s office gives legislative panel investigating Madigan the green light to call witnesses – Chicago Tribune*

But, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the Democrat who is chairing the committee, said the office “requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to the (deferred prosecution agreement) that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government. In other words, we can call witnesses but we can’t really ask them any questions.”

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3 Illinois towns consider merging amid population exodus – FOX News

Alorton and Centreville residents voted in the March primary to consolidate their two cities into what would have been called Alcentra, but Cahokia was added to the mix in a new referendum that will be up for a vote in the Nov. 3 election.

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Rental markets face ‘tsunami of evictions,’ analyst warns – WCIA (Champaign)

“It’ll come to a point where they will get evicted,” said Stella Dean with the Springfield Area Landlord Association. “Once the eviction ban is lifted, there will be tenants who have not paid who have abused the system who will be evicted. Those who’ve worked out payment plans with their landlords will not be evicted.”

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker maintaining approval, particularly among Democrats, for handling of pandemic, survey shows – Chicago Tribune*

A total of 29.4% of voters disapproved Pritzker’s handling of COVID-19 last month, the survey said.

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Schools Find Ways To Deal With A COVID-19 Created Digital Divide – NPR Illinois

State Superintendent Carmen Ayala says creativity is helping to bridge the gap: “We have had areas where the universities opened up their internet access, and we have families that were able to park in the parking lot and download some of the lessons."

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Lawmakers want more transparency from DCFS – Center Square

A recent audit of DCFS found that the system designed to protect Illinois’ vulnerable children had prior contact with 102 kids who died from 2015 to 2017. The report found that there were 163 prior investigations for the 102 victims, with one person investigated nine times before their death.

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Commentary: Give it to us straight on the income tax amendment – Chicago Tribune*

H. Edward Wynn, author: "A graduated income tax may very well be the right public policy choice, or it may not be. Why don’t our leaders and the media trust us to make that choice based on the facts, not misleading and false arguments. The people of Illinois deserve better."

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Unions form nonprofit to push green jobs, could seek help for nuclear plants – Center Square

Executive Director Nikki Budzinski, who recently left the Pritzker administration, said the nonprofit will unveil new policy initiatives not only in the energy sector but also infrastructure and other policy areas in the coming months.

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Child welfare officials say they’re coping during pandemic – Capitol News IL

“Our families are experiencing economic stress, and also just not very familiar with being around each other all that often,” said Bill Steinhauser, of Bethany for Children and Families. “And that stress as well as economic stress are causing our families to do as any other family, which is experience dysfunction. And also they’re trying to escape from the reality of COVID-19."

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Editorial: Closing arguments, Part One: Why voters should reject Pritzker Tax – Chicago Tribune*

"As young people abandon this state or don’t return here to start their families and careers, the Illinois Exodus intensifies. Every time a taxpayer departs for Florida, Tennessee or Texas, the tax burden on those of us who remain grows heavier. So each of us should think skeptically, not reflexively by political tribe, about what the Pritzker Tax would do to Illinois."

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Risking COVID-19 Exposure Again Is The Only Option For These Temp Workers – WBEZ (Chicago)

Half of the workers surveyed said they felt “unsafe or very unsafe” working during the pandemic. Assembly lines typically have machines that can’t be moved to accommodate for social distancing, and many said their companies did not disclose when other workers got the virus.

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Sen. Terry Link latest ‘fair tax’ supporter to resign amid corruption charge – Illinois Policy

Five key supporters of the progressive tax in the Illinois General Assembly are facing corruption probes. Four have been charged. Three have resigned.

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Pritzker, Ezike and Arwady talk about the COVID-19 pandemic at 6 months, and look ahead to what might be next – Chicago Tribune*

Looking back, the first-term Democratic governor remains angry over the federal government’s response to the pandemic, while the top state and city of Chicago public health officials say they were surprised early on that there was so much pushback on measures such as mandates to wear masks in public.

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Column: ‘COVID-19 Was A Dress Rehearsal’ – Illinois Pension Reformers Are Not Giving Up – Forbes

"And the numbers may be dreary, but in a way, I am at least encouraged that the Illinois Policy Institute and Wirepoints teams consider it worth the effort to continue to make the case for reform."

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Southwest IL restaurants defy COVID restrictions as positivity rate remains high – Belleville News-Democrat

“Mr. Pritzker doesn’t pay my bills,” restaurant owner Ashley Driemeyer said. “If he would like to come down here and pay them for me and then shut me down, that would be a different story. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said. “I just have too much on the line."

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Voters to decide if Cahokia, Centreville, Alorton will merge – The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale)

“What you’re seeing in these cities is what you’re seeing in urban Black cities all across the country,” said Centreville Township Supervisor Curtis McCall Sr. “With the loss of population comes the loss of federal funding that will help with schooling, infrastructure, hospitals and public safety. All these federal dollars that you get based on your population, which average out $1,500-$1,600 per person, we’re missing."

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Illinois builders, chambers white, black and Hispanic, combine to oppose tax advocated by Pritzker – Illinois Business Daily

The coalition of tax opponents includes the Associated Builders and Contractors of Illinois; the Bolingbrook, Greater Oak Brook, Quincy and Naperville Area chambers of commerce; the Auto Parts and Service Association of Illinois; Homebuilders Association of Illinois and the Illinois Business Alliance; the Mid-West Truckers Association; and the Southwestern Illinois Employers Association. Other opponents include the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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3 years ago, the Africana Studies major at SIU was on the chopping block. Now, it’s growing. – The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale)

“The idea is we want our students to leave having some capstone experience as it relates to diversity and inclusion,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “Our environments are pretty diverse, but they may go out into one more diverse.”

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Illinois Senate could address child services problems during COVID-19 pandemic – Center Square

“It’s a political issue more now than it is a healthcare issue and after the election, we’ll be surprised at how quickly the COVID issue is resolved,” State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford said.

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Illinois High School Student-Athletes Push to Play Fall Sports – NBC5 (Chicago)

"We’re willing to do everything we have to do keep it safe and everything, like social distance, wear our masks," said one athlete, Max. "We just want to get back on the field with our teammates."

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Covid-era economy in Illinois ranked sixth worst among 50 states – Center Square

FILE - Chicago Violence With a June jobless rate of 14.6 percent and a five-year annualized employment growth rate of negative 2 percent, the Illinois economy finished sixth worst in a new ranking by the website 24/7 Wall St.

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How coronavirus rampaged through U of I campus – Bloomberg

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Coronavirus Totals Distorted: Will County Republicans Agree – Patch

Pritzker needs to let Joliet area restaurants and bars immediately open for indoor business, Republicans announced Friday.

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IHSA clarifies recent letter sent to Illinois Gov. Pritzker’s office – Journal Star (Peoria)

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Illinois AG brings his South Side upbringing into criminal justice – Politico

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